Four Penn State University students are facing charges for stealing a large 9-foot menorah from outside the home of the campus Chabad rabbi, and leaving it lying damaged outside a Jewish fraternity, reported CBS Pittsburgh.
The menorah was stolen overnight on Friday, Oct. 27, from outside the home of Rabbi Hershy Gourarie, co-director of Chabad of the Undergrads at Penn State University, and later found lying damaged in front of the Sigma Alpha Mu house, which Gourarie says is a Jewish fraternity.
Four men were seen on surveillance footage placing the menorah on the frat house porch. Gourarie says the students being charged are members of other fraternities.
Rabbi Gourarie told The Daily Collegian that the menorah was too damaged to be repaired and would cost about $1,800 to fix.
“I hope that this is a time of introspection for the four suspects. At the right time, I would like to meet with them to educate and heal,” he said in a statement.
The students were identified as Vincent Morisco, of Woodland Park, New Jersey, Henry Scott Dardaris, of Newtown, Brandon Michael Steidley, of State College, and Kyle A. McCarthy, of Avondale.
State College Police said Monday that they had filed charges against the students, including misdemeanor counts of theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief. They are scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 20.
Gourarie says they have set up a GoFundMe to raise money for their Light With Love campaign, which will host campus-wide events to “promote peace and diversity” and place Menorahs around campus.
University officials released a statement in reaction to the menorah theft as well as other recent hate acts on campus.
“In the last few weeks alone, actions such as stealing and damaging a Jewish Menorah, reports of racial slurs, and activity by white supremacy groups have occurred on or near our campuses,” according to the statement.
“We condemn these actions and will hold students and others involved accountable where we can, including restitution for damage. We do not support nor do we condone racist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, homophobic or other discriminatory messages or actions. Nor will we allow our University community to become a place where offensive words and behaviors take root. We will continue to condemn hate-filled speech and action by any individual or group that aims to incite fear or create divisiveness.” the statement also said.